This incident took place around 1997. I was just fresh out of college and was looking for my first job, basically jobless. My friend Ajay, who had gotten a decent job before all of us, had brought a secondhand Enfield Bullet bike from his first salary. Being a devotee of Sai Baba of Shirdi he wished to make a trip from Mumbai to Shirdi on his first bike. So, he offered me to come along as pillion rider on this journey. With nothing much on my plate, I readily agreed to this seemingly little adventure ride. I had not taken such a long journey on a bike before, and never on a Bullet, and never ever at night, so was decently excited.
Ajay was a ace experienced driver since his young days and was quite well versed of the route we were about to take. He used to sometimes drive his father's truck on the same route to help him out with their transport business. In those early days the Mumbai-Nasik route was not for the faint hearted, especially for night travelers. Even though it was supposed to be a national highway, it was quite narrow and unkempt with moon like craters all over and lights on roads were a rarity. Especially the Kasara Ghaat section. A snaky steep uphill climb winding through mountains to get on the other side. One of the most accident-prone routes in those times.
Don't remember the exact date and time now but must have been a weekend. We started our trip by early evening and planned to reach Shirdi by max 1-2 am so we could attend the early morning prayers in the temple. Distance between Mumbai to Shirdi is roughly around 250 kms and we estimated the not so fast Bullet ride would take us at least 7 hours to reach in the darkness and given road conditions.
I soon realized my buddy was a bit overconfident of his riding skills because he was going to negotiate mad Indian truck drivers and crater filled roads on a highway with a headlight that needed one to race the accelerator to make things brighter. The light beam would hardly cover 10 feet ahead of us. I was a bit nervous about the whole thing and kept my fingers crossed.
We slowly completed the Kasara Ghaat section by riding behind a slow-moving truck and reached Nasik by around 12. 30 am. Had few close calls but that's a story for some other day. My backside was sore by now due to a very hard seat; it had taken us a good 7 hours just to reach Nasik and we still had a further 100 kms to reach Shirdi. After refreshing ourselves with some tea and some Bun butter at a roadside vendor, and a whole lot of sit-ups to make the blood flow again, we decided to move on.
Ajay knew all the roads like the back of his hand in this area as he had been driving on these roads for a good many years before. I had no clue myself but I had complete trust in my riding partner. Folks who have ever been to Shirdi by road might recollect that one has to take a sharp left from Highway 45 to move towards Shirdi. The roads from Nasik were surprisingly well made and smooth and the bike was purring like a cat. We were cruising at a good speed of 80 kms/hr on a lonely moonless highway in the dead of the night.
Ajay was driving like a maniac now on the empty road ahead. We kept going on and on in silence for what seemed like an eternity and then Ajay suddenly moved the bike to the side of the road and stopped. I looked around puzzled as to why we had stopped in the middle of nowhere. It seemed to be a sleepy village junction on the highway. Not a living soul in sight. I asked Ajay as to why have we stopped. He kept quiet; something was going through his mind. He appeared confused and said, "I think we missed our turn and I don't know where we are now."
I was like "Dude? What do we do now? Should we turn back or what?"
While we were busy discussing our next course of action by the side of that road a police van silently creeped by us and stopped. A man pulled his head out from the left side and called us over. His face hidden by a muffler wrapped around the whole face with just the eyes open. Though in the dark I couldn't make out much of their features. H asked in a local dialect "What happened? Why are you both stopping here at this time?". Knowing the local dialect well I told him how we wanted to reach the town of Shirdi and missed our left turn somehow and we were officially lost now.
He stared at us for more than a second and then said "Bhau (brother) this is Sangamner, you guys have travelled a whole lot ahead from the turn for Shirdi."
We both looked puzzled at each other and wondered how we managed such a thing. And I wondered why did Ajay get no inkling about this blunder? We asked the policeman whether we should turn back. He replied in the negative, don't go that way it's a long route he said. Pointing towards a turn ahead he told us to take a left from there which will take us faster to our destination. We thanked him and got back on our bike and started on the new route. Time could have been around 2.00 am, am guessing now. We drove through the night through deep interior roads with seldom any signs of civilization on either side. Just endless forest road. It felt like the route was never ending but we kept going on and on. Finally, we somehow reached the town of Shirdi at around 7am, had totally missed the morning prayers. We went straight to a hotel room and collapsed and slept all the way until the afternoon. It had taken us an almost 13 hours for a supposedly 7 hours one.
Rest of the trip was uneventful apart from a bad case of seat rash I got riding pillion on the hard back. We even assumed the mistake we did was just a human error and thought nothing much about it. It all seemed like a good adventure. No harm done. All was well.
But it was not to be.
On the fourth day after this trip, I was lazing around on my sofa in the drawing room. Eyes were closed but I was wide awake thinking about something. I suddenly started having a feeling of suffocation, couldn't even open my eyes, and something strong was holding me down with force. Due to my eyes being closed I just had a dark screen in front of my eyes. But then I suddenly saw these two men clearly before me holding me down, with my eyes still closed like a vision my mind had created. Both were in police Khaki uniform, with thick twirled moustaches. Of medium built and height. Dark sun-tanned faces. Laughing hysterically as they kept holding me down. One on either side of me. And then the one on my right bent over and whispered in my ear "It was so much fun making you guys lose your path that night" and they both started laughing hysterically again as if it was a huge joke between them. All this while, I am still in their firm grip pushed down and fighting back to gain some control over me. In those frantic moments, I started chanting my family deity's and my Guru's name in desperation and applied all my strength to come off their grip.
After what seemed like an eternity there was a sudden release. The hold over me had vanished. Still in shock, I slowly opened my eyes and looked around frantically. Scared to the bones to what I had just witnessed and experienced. I was in a confused shocked state and somehow got up and stumbled towards the kitchen and gulped few glasses of water. My mind racing through the moments that had just occurred. Playing again and again in my mind like a tape. Trying to make sense of it.
I was feeling drained by now of all my strength and it felt like I was drugged heavily. Heart thumping like a machine from the ordeal. My mind though was looking for answers and wondering what to do now. How do I deal with this? Was this for real or just a hallucination? I had no way of knowing it at that moment. But the sudden powerful attack felt real and what he whispered in my ear was chilling. In those frantic moments I luckily remembered a man who I had once sought help from some years back in a different paranormal experience. I called him up and asked if I could come over, that it was something very serious. He said OK.
A quick ricksha (three-wheeler) ride and I was at his doorstep within an hour in a lower middle-class neighborhood of ground level row housing colony. A huge old Peepal tree with flags tied to it growing right in front of his door. That was the sign to locate his house I remembered. I knocked at his door and a little girl answered, welcomed me in and asked me to take a seat and ran back inside. I could hear there were family members inside, watching some soap opera on TV on full blast. After some time, my guy appeared from inside to greet me and sat in front of me. In his 70s, short of height and frail stature, wearing simple white shirt and loose pajama like trousers and a white Nehru cap over his head. Not much of a talker but I had seen his spiritual strength last time I had met him. In a gentle voice he asked me what happened. I narrated him what had just transpired with me.
He went "Hmmm...'' and closed his eyes and entered a trance like state for few minutes. I am guessing now he must have been checking my story by his own methods and its cause in that state. He opened his eyes few seconds later and said one word 'Chakwa' and smiled, almost a laugh and said don't worry it will be alright with a gentle pat on my leg. Next, he asked me to get a fresh lemon from outside and a pack of incense sticks. I did as I was told and gave it to him. After praying to the small altar he had above him on the wall, which was filled with innumerable photo frames and little idols of Gods. He applied some vermillion on the lemon on all sides and lit up the whole bunch of incense sticks and chanted some Mantras that I couldn't figure out. All the time smoking the vermillion smeared lemon with the fumes of the incense sticks from below. I have a hazy memory right now as to what he did with the lemon after that. But I remember he said it's done. You may go home now. Don't worry am here. I bid farewell and the moment I stepped out of his house it felt normal, my strength seemed to be back and I felt lighter. I heaved a sigh of relief and came back home.
Later, I got intrigued by the word 'Chakwa' which I had heard the first time and asked around few knowledgeable people about it. What I gathered was this particular low-level entity haunts lonely forest roads and tricks passersby by various means of hypnotism sort of method. Make them go astray from their destination. They seem to just derive pleasure out of people's misery. Considered generally to be not that harmful.
This whole experience could very well be a strong play of mind tricking the body or perhaps something else. I remember some days post this I sketched an image of both those policemen with as many details as I could but later discarded it.
Thank you for reading my submission patiently.